Two extras from the Twins’ first win over KC since Aug. 13:
Whit Merrifield was just rounding third base in the ninth inning when Eddie Rosario fielded Jarrod Dyson’s single, and the Twins’ outfielder made a quick calculation: He might be able to throw out Merrifield at the plate.
Maybe he could have. But his manager didn’t like that calculation.
“It’s been addressed,” Molitor said bluntly after the game.
The reason: The Twins led 6-4 when Dyson hit the ball, so Merrifield wasn’t the tying run. By throwing to the plate instead of second base, Dyson was able to advance into scoring position, where one more hit could have tied the game.
“It was made clear that second base was the play there,” Molitor said. “Emotion of the moment, visually seeing he might have a chance — it altered what he should have done with that ball.”
No harm done, since Paulo Orlando ended the game by popping up, but Rosario was taught another lesson in a season full of them.
It’s not the most efficient way of getting outs, but Kyle Gibson wasn’t complaining on Wednesday.
Jarrod Dyson led off the game with a single to right field, but was caught leaning by Gibson two pitches later, and was picked off, though not until umpire Angel Hernandez’s safe call was overturned by replay. Then Paul Orlando singled to center, and made the same mistake as Dyson. Gibson picked him off first as well, and suddenly had two outs without retiring a batter.
“It’s not a new strategy for keeping his pitch count down,” Molitor cracked after the game.
Still, it’s a nice development for Gibson, who had never picked off more than two batters in a season.
“He’s got a decent move. A lot of these righthanded pitchers are learning how to get away with a slight move that’s quick — they either deceive you with the front shoulder or front leg,” Molitor said. “He’s been working on it. I know he’s worked on shortening his arm on his throw to get it over there more quickly.”
Pickoffs are rare in general, but Gibson’s feat was especially rare. It had been 22 seasons since a Twins pitcher picked two runners off in the same game; Jim Deshaies last did it on May 17, 1994 against the Yankees. And Gibson’s game is the 11th in Twins history.
But twice in an inning? That’s only been done once before by a Twin: Roger Erickson pulled it off at Metropolitan Stadium on May 23, 1978, when he nabbed Bump Wills and Juan Beniquez of the Rangers in the second inning.